Ant IPO halted by China over “significant change” in regulatory environment

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Ant Group
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With just 48 hours to go, one of the world’s most anticipated initial public offerings (IPO) with the potential to become the largest, China-based Ant’s listing has been put on hold at both Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges. 

The IPO which was due to go online on Thursday was pulled after Chinese regulators summoned Ant’s billionaire co-founder, Mr. Jack Ma for a series of “supervisory interviews which included representations from the Chinese central bank and three other top financial regulators.

In a statement, the Shanghai stock exchange observed that “there was “significant change” in the regulatory environment and “such major issues could lead to your company not longer complying with requirements on listing or information disclosure.”

Earlier, Chinese authorities had warned Mr. Jack Ma that Ant could face increased scrutiny and will be subject to the same restrictions on capital and leverage as banks.

The much-hyped IPO which was expected to break all the records garnered a lot of international interest. The listing attracted at least $3 trillion of orders from individual investors for its dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges. A successful listing under normal circumstances who have made the offer the largest IPO with an anticipated market value of $315 billion based on filings.

The initial buzz around the matter lead to over 76 billion share subscriptions from the institutional investors, more than 284 times the initial offering tranche.

Ant co-founder Jack Ma was in the limelight for criticizing local and global regulators for restricting innovation and not paying sufficient heed to development and opportunities for the young.

In its statement after the discussions with the regulators, Ant said that it will “implement the meeting opinions in-depth” and follow guidelines including stable innovation, an embrace of supervision and service to the real economy.